Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Google Summer of Code Mentors Meeting last day

Day 2 at the Google Summer of Code Mentors Summit didn't start to well as I woke up later than I should have. But I recovered well, arrived to Google and, after a Google coffee, went to the day 2 sessions, starting with a half of discussion about how to handle conflict / offensive situations on OS communication channels.

Then, after a talk about project forks with real stories, we had lunch, to continue afterwards with the great "Advanced trolling" session: very funny, with more or less serious advices about how to troll and of course, lots of live trolling (I couldn't tell you the name of the speakers but they just rocked).

To get back to normal, following we had a rather serious and educative conversation about the open source business models, of course, with real life stories, after which a healthy conversation about how to fail a student with grace. It was more towards how to detect early and prevent the situation of a failing student, but we had a few conclusions, the most important being that the student needs to hear the word "fail" as soon as possible, just to know it exists.

Closing session followed, by Leslie wonderful as always, with a list of ways to improve the GSoC. Pretty voted was that we need to go back to the black tshirts. Definitely.

After that, some of the mentors headed to the airports for their homes, and the rest went back to the hotel to sit in the hot tub. It was a fun night, full of enjoyable conversation with (I hope I can mention everybody, because I don't know names nor projects of all the nice OS people we had fun with): Mark and Jorge from Turbogears, Marten and Vincent from Crystal Space, Tobias and Tobias from GCC (yep, they're called the same), Greg from PostgreSQL and Google (who was very nice and drove us to the hotel from Google), Leslie of course (very happy with the hot tub) and the other cool guys whose names I don't know. Ah, I also met the author of the inappropriate email :), at the closing session.

The GSoC mentors summit is very joyful and animating, a very diverse experience, it's great to meet so many people (some of which give the feeling of an "Open Source school") and chat about everything from students strategies to stories from the visa interview.

Now, after a long long day (with a bit of the night in the plane flying towards the day), here we are in Paris, in a short stop on our way home, with me surprised that I managed to finish this post, and that my fingers still listen to me and continue to type.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

If you're going to Saaan Franciiiisco , to the Google Summer of Code Mentors Summit

So the first day of the Google Summer of Code mentors summit is done.

After arriving in San Francisco Thursday at noon and spending Thursday and Friday there -- blog post to come, with pics -- last night we arrived at the Sunnyvale hotel for today's mentors summit. We had a nice (well, tastes are discussable) thai food dinner and met some of the open source folks: John from the Ascend project and a Scottish guy (whose name I don't remember -- Jim?) from a language processing project.

Today we went to Google plex for the first day of the Mentors Summit, saw a bit of where Google people work, ate their food, drank their drinks and snacked their snacks. We've got the mentors yellow shirts -- I start to believe more and more that the whole purpose of this years GSoC was to make people wear ridiculous colors :) -- and had a short cool opening from Leslie Hawthorn and Chris DiBona after which we did the session proposing and scheduling.

Also in the bus this morning we socialized with some nice people from the Fedora project and over coffee we met the other Romanian guy in the mentors gang (at least that's what I know about), Stefan Bucur.

First session we went into was about project hosting, all the platforms out there with their goods and bads, including self hosting.

Then some more thai food and caffeine free coke for lunch in the sun, accompanied by nice flute (?) music from one of the mentors.

After the lunch, we went to the talk about how to make mentoring a continuous activity, with discussions about potential similar programs initiated by OS organizations, and successful stories about motivating students.

Then we went to see how to teach college students to be "hackers" (yeah, I intentionally didn't go to the women in open source talk that was in the same time), how to make them use the real-world tools and how to motivate them, with a successful story from the university of Chicago. With this occasion I discovered that there are a lot of people in this year's summit (maybe in the program in generally) which are part of a university team (teaching, researching, etc).

After a short break, I went to see "pretty pictures": discussion about alternative methods for documentation (image, video, anything non-text), how to produce it and how to stimulate others to. Bottom line is that you need to make your users "ecstatic" about the project so that they feel the need to show it to the world in a screencast :).

Then, the last session of the day was about the relation between the academia world and the open source one, and how nice would it be if all knowledge in the academia would be published and maintained as an open source project.

Now we are back at the hotel and we're gonna have a cool pizza party by the pool. I tried on my mentors shirt over my khaki long-sleeved shirt and it's actually pretty decent. Going out now to amaze everybody with this combination (and eat), and hope to be able to stay up longer than yesterday (I fell asleep at 23, dear me).